Circumcision doesn’t reduce HIV spread, study reveals

Contrary to recent popular claims that male circumcision reduces HIV/Aids transmission by 60 per cent, a group of researchers has disputed the findings, saying the action will only increase the spread of HIV/Aids and can only reduce its transmission by 1.3 per cent at most.

Researchers Gregory Boyle and George Hill in a study published by Australia’s Thomson Reuters, base their argument on a recent male-to-female transmission of HIV study in Uganda, which showed that more women contracted the virus after unprotected intercourse to infected circumcised male partners.

They concluded that male circumcision is associated with a 61-per-cent increase in HIV transmission.

Doctors circumcise a man

“Across all the three female-to-male trials, of the 5,411 men subjected to male circumcision, 64 (1.18 per cent) became HIV-positive while among the 5,497 controls, 137 (2.49 per cent) became HIV-positive,” Boyle and Hill said.

“So the absolute decrease in HIV infection was only 1.31 per cent, which is not significant. Examination of epidemiological data shows that male circumcision does not provide protection against HIV transmission in several sub-Saharan African countries, including Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania, all of which have higher prevalence of HIV infection among circumcised men,” they concluded.

Malawi government recently  rolled out medical male circumcision drive after the World Health Organisation-UNAIDS in 2007 recommended male circumcision as an HIV preventive measure .

“Malawi had also conducted its own study which also proved the efficacy of male circumcision in reducing the spread of the virus that causes AIDS,” said Ministry of Health spokesman Henry Chimbali.

Governmnment formally launched its voluntary medical male circumcision programme in Mulanje district, which has an estimated HIV prevalence of 17 percent. Mulanje is one of nine pilot districts to offer the service.

“The government has embarked on an intense campaign to disseminate accurate information about medical male circumcision. Malawi registers 70,000 new infections a year, and people still had to be reminded that male circumcision alone is “not 100 percent safe”, Chimbali cautioned.

According to the Principal Secretary for HIV/AIDS in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Mary Shawa, more than 5,000 men have so far been circumcised.

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